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Freddie releases U.S. economic and housing market outlook
Freddie Mac has released its U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for January showing that despite the fiscal uncertainties facing the country, consumer confidence has remained fairly resilient in recovering from its Great Recession lows, buoyed by improving labor and housing market news. Business owners and managers are more optimistic about the nation’s business outlook than consumers seem to be.

Highlights of the Outlook include:

  • December registered 155,000 job gains and November’s payrolls were revised up 24,000, bringing the employment increase for 2012 to 1.86 million, the best since 2006.
  • Assuming the uncertainty of the fiscal policy debates during the first quarter fails to derail the economic expansion, the U.S. will likely see about two million new jobs created in 2013, gradually nudging the unemployment rate lower.
  • Over the first 11 months of 2012, home sales were up 9 percent from the same period of the prior year; similar gains are projected for 2013.
  • With the unemployment rate in December holding at an elevated 7.8 percent, it’s likely to ensure a continuation of an accommodative policy stance by the Federal Reserve through the coming year. Therefore, relatively low interest rates will continue to be a feature of mortgage lending and the broader capital markets in 2013.

HUD releases December Housing Scorecard
HUD and the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury recently released the December edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard, which showed the housing marketing bottomed out nationally and clearly turned a corner – as home values continued to rise and home sales remained strong in November – although officials caution that the overall recovery remains fragile.


“As the December housing scorecard indicates, our housing market is continuing to show important signs of recovery – with the FHFA and Case-Shiller housing price indices up 5.6 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively, from one year ago,” said HUD Senior Advisor on Housing Finance Michael Berman.


The December Housing Scorecard features key data on the health of the housing market and the impact of the Administration’s foreclosure prevention programs, including:


  • Home prices showed large annual gains for the 12 months ending October 2012, and the Administration’s recovery efforts continue to help millions of families deal with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. More than six million mortgage modification and other forms of assistance arrangements were started between April 2009 and the end of November 2012. More than 81,000 loans were refinanced under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) in October, bringing the total to 790,600 since the beginning of 2012.
  • The Administration’s foreclosure programs are providing relief for millions of homeowners as we continue to recover from an unprecedented housing crisis.  More than 1.4 million homeowner assistance actions have taken place through the Making Home Affordable Program, while the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has offered more than 1.5 million loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions. The Administration’s programs continue to encourage improved standards and processes in the industry, with HOPE Now lenders offering families and individuals more than 3 million proprietary mortgage modifications through October.
  • HAMP continues to offer homeowners sustainable relief to avoid foreclosure.  As of November, more than 1.1 million homeowners have received a permanent modification through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), saving approximately $544 on their mortgage payments each month, and an estimated $16.7 billion to date.
  • In November, 77 percent of homeowners with eligible non-GSE mortgages benefited from principal reduction with their HAMP modification. Eighty-seven percent of homeowners entering the program in the last two and a half years have received a permanent modification of their mortgage through HAMP.

New rules require lenders to verify borrowers’ ability to repay
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued new rules that define a “qualified mortgage (QM),” which will protect borrowers from deceptive lending practices.  The CFPB was charged with drafting and implementing the rules under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to clearly define underwriting goals and other standards that a loan must have in order to ensure the borrower has the ability to repay the loan.  When lenders issue a QM mortgage, they are afforded a safe-harbor from legal liability shielding them from being sued for originating a loan they knew the borrower could not repay.  The new rules go into effect Jan. 10, 2014.C.A.R. commends the CFPB rules, however, we need to further understand the implications of the rules on non QM mortgages, including jumbo loans.  Because California has the largest jumbo housing market in the country, it’s important that the rule not be biased against borrowers in high cost states.  C.A.R. will work with the CFPB to ensure these rules are applied in a manner that doesn’t restrict capital for well-underwritten mortgages in high cost areas.

Category : Blog

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